Wally Herger, who served 13 terms representing northern California's Second Congressional District in the House of Representatives, delivered a farewell address on Capitol Hill Nov. 28, 2012.
Congressman Wally Herger delivered these comments Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 28, 2012, as he prepared to retire from office. Herger praised his successor, former California State Assembly and State Senate member Doug LaMalfa, for knowing "what it is like to drive a tractor and get mud on his boots." The complete text of Herger's comments:
"I was deeply honored and humbled when the good people of Northern California elected me 26 years ago to be their Representative. I came to Washington as President Ronald Reagan, one of my personal heroes, was wrapping up the final years of his second term. That was more than a quarter century ago, and yet the years have moved by at a breathtaking pace. Time does not permit me to even begin to recount the memories. There have been incredible highs and incredible lows, but I will always treasure the time I was allowed to serve in this amazing institution that was forged by the wisdom of our founding fathers.
"I have mixed feelings today. I will deeply miss the company of dedicated colleagues who have become my good friends. I value and treasure the members of my staff who have literally become a second family, and I know I will feel a sense of loss when we say good-bye. I know that when I pick up the morning newspaper next January, and I read about the enormously important issues that are being put to a vote, a part of me will wish I could still be here to fight the battle.
"And yet, I look forward to the next phase of my life. I want to see more of those grandchildren. I get to have more time with my dear wife Pam, the most supportive spouse any man could dare hope and pray for. And I know that when I step down a host of deeply committed, patriotic colleagues will do everything in their power to advance the cause of liberty. I am greatly encouraged by the dedication and passion of the large class of Republican Members who were swept into office in the historic election of 2010. I am also very gratified that Northern California will be represented next year by a Republican freshman who knows what it is like to drive a tractor and get mud on his boots. I have confidence in this new generation of leaders.
"I cannot leave this place without saying a few words about the wonderful people of Northern California. In my rural district you will find farmers with rough hands and sunburned faces. You will find tough timber fallers and mill workers. The people of rural California have that old-fashioned and refreshing patriotism that leads them to post this kind of sign at the county line: "Where We Honor Veterans."
"In my two decades of service the thing that has always struck me the most about my constituents is that what they really want most from the federal government is simply to be left alone. They do not want a new program. They want to run their small businesses, their farms, and their mills without being wrapped up in 15 yards of red tape. They want to compete, they want to prosper. They understand the premise of this country – personal liberty. The freedom to pursue a dream. The concept of risk and reward. That is not too much to ask.
"For their sakes – and for the sake of all Americans – I ask my colleagues to get back to the roots of our nation. To freshly embrace our heritage. To trust the ingenuity of the American people to thrive and prosper if we will simply get out of their way.
"I have deeply appreciated the opportunity to serve with you, and I extend my deepest thanks to the constituents of northern California for allowing me the extraordinary privilege of fighting for them in the United States House of Representatives. Thank you."